August 5, 2021

Athens, refuge of the sworn enemies of Recep Tayyip Erdogan

By Sasha Loizot

Posted today at 04:13

The Greek capital has switched to summer time. A muggy heat has invaded the streets of the city and dissuades the more daring from venturing outside. It is only at the beginning of the evening, with the return of the freshness, that the streets of Athens find a little animation. In the central square of Syntagma, below the Greek Parliament, the fountain has become an ideal meeting place.

A few meters away, Hamdi is installed on the terrace of an upscale café in the square. The 38-year-old former judge arrived in Greece just over a year ago, after fleeing Turkey. In the aftermath of the coup attempt of July 15, 2016, which shook the power of Erdogan, he was suspected of “belonging to a terrorist organization”, for his proximity to the brotherhood of Fethullah Gülen – Muslim preacher refugee in the United States, accused by the Turkish authorities of having instigated the putsch – like hundreds of thousands of people.

Hamdi (here in Athens, in July 2021), a former judge and supporter of the Gülen brotherhood, took refuge in Greece after four years on the run in Turkey.

“On the evening of July 15, I was on leave. When I saw the lynchings taking place against the soldiers, I was afraid and I decided to wait where I was. I then learned that I had been suspended and then fired. The police went to my home because there was an arrest warrant against me ”, he recalls. A four-year run ensues, during which he hides in different cities before resolving to cross the Evros River, the natural northern border that separates Turkey from Greece. Like him, 9,000 Turkish citizens have applied for asylum in Greece over the past five years.

Prove your innocence

On the night of July 15 to 16, 2016, a fraction of the army – a majority of which were Gulenists – rose up against the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The putschists notably bombed Parliament, kidnapped the Chief of Staff and attempted to assassinate President Erdogan. Violent clashes with the population resulted in 251 civilian casualties and nearly 2,200 injured.

The Turkish authorities immediately organized a retort against the whole brotherhood of Fethullah Gülen, renamed “Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization” (FETO). In the process, the Council of Ministers orchestrated all-out purges in the authorities infiltrated by the brotherhood – in particular in education, the police, justice and the army -, by the promulgation of decree-laws during the two years. state of emergency.

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